Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Summer 8-2017


Addressing the impact of scavengers is essential for a complete analysis of many forensic sites. Despite considerable research on canids and rodents on a broad taphonomic scale (Haglund 1992; Haglund et al. 1989; Haynes 1983), the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) has not been studied for its impact in forensic contexts. In order to address this research gap, I will explore the role of the porcupine in scavenging bone based on data collected during a recent experimental taphonomic study (Sorg 2013). Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this study included data from motion- and heat-sensitive cameras focused on domesticated pig (Sus scrofa) cadavers exposed in the western Maine woods between 2010 and 2012. Using the photographic and videographic evidence of scavenger visitations at two of these sites, I will examine the behavior of the North American porcupine each time an animal of that species visited the remains. I will compare their observed behavior to the literature regarding porcupine behavior and the behavior of other scavengers, including rodents and canids. Finally, I will compare porcupine dental morphology to the tooth-marks left on the remains to address the possibility of identifying porcupine-scavenged remains in forensic contexts.

Included in

Anthropology Commons